The New York Rangers are a solid team every year as playoff contenders, and more recently they have had the type of relentless dedication on both sides of the puck that can carry a team all the way to a Stanley Cup title. A surprising run last year to the finals, followed by a season with huge promise this year, including a President’s Trophy during the regular season, panned out to be not enough. It is a big disappointment after what will be an unforgettable season, but the NY Rangers shouldn’t hang their heads in defeat, and instead should look forward to more great seasons much like this one, as they have found a great identity, with a phenomenal nucleus of young and seasoned veterans to lead the charge.
Taking a look at the team that will be coming back next year, you can’t help but like your chances again despite missing out on what seemed like a sure shot to the Stanley Cup finals, especially with the play of the team in Henrik Lundqvist absence. See below for three key areas that bode well for continued Ranger success next season:
1. World Class Goaltending
Henrik Lundqvist can flat out play and he is absolutely coming into his prime as a goaltender. Not only is he hands down phenomenal, but he is also clutch in big time positions. You think Lundqvist would be rattled after what unfolded a couple weeks ago, but don’t fret – he is a competitor and a great professional. He will continue to show up every night and give it his all, standing on his head game after game, frustrating his counterparts and invigorating his team.
2. Young Talent / Veterans
You have to like this if you’re a coach and fan. Your young players are coming into their own at such an early age and your veterans have plenty left in the tank to motivate and provide developmental direction.
We see this with the emergence of Jesper Fast in the playoffs and the heady play of Kevin Hayes during the regular season / postseason. You also can’t leave out Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider from the core of young players that can flat out play on the NY Rangers squad. These two can sometimes get lost in the veteran talk because they have been good for some time, and by some time we are talking 3-5 years, which is really quite young in hockey terms. They are growing, learning and their ceiling has yet to be met and should only continue to provide great scoring / playmaking touch that you can’t help but love. Not to mention,
Kreider is a freak athlete that is fast, strong, and is only truly starting to realize his
potential. Just check out this video of him jumping out of the shallow end of a pool, it’s crazy.
Looking at the veterans, you can’t ignore Rick Nash and his scoring during the regular season, but you do need to point out his subpar play in the postseason. Subpar might be a bit harsh, but if you look at the stat sheet you can see how people could judge him, especially after a season filled with scoring and assists. Nash can do a lot of things, and that’s exactly what he did during the Rangers post season run this season. He didn’t always show up on the state sheet, but his presence was definitely felt most times he was on the ice. Another veteran worth noting is Derek Brassard. His play in the postseason was on display big time an you’d think if it wasn’t for him the Rangers wouldn’t have gotten nearly as far as they did with such little scoring than they are accustomed to in their postseason run.
3. Blue Line Presence
The Rangers have one of the best defenses in the league, hands down. Each line gets the job done and some, with a few capable providing offense on the other end. There’s not much to pick at here and they will continue to have this identity for years to come, as there major assets are locked into long-term deals.
The NY Rangers exit from the postseason came as a surprise to many, but it shouldn’t dissuade you in the least. This team won’t be changing drastically from the cast that carried them all the way to a President’s Trophy during the regular season. The future looks bright, so sit back and enjoy a team that will be fun to watch for the foreseeable future.
via Bruce Heen: http://bruceheen.net/bruce-heen-rangers-lose-out-on-stanley-cup-race-but-the-future-looks-bright/